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Best Apps To Learn Italian
Discover the best way to learn Italian with these top-rated courses and programs online
Once you’ve decided to learn to speak Italian, the next choice is how to learn. And given that language apps tend to be the most practical, affordable, and frankly, effective means of learning to speak a new language, this is likely the route you will go. But with dozens of online programs, how do you which one is best for you? In this comprehensive guide, we cover our list of the top four Italian apps (among the 14 we’ve tested), and elaborate on which situation each may be best for.
In the video above, John from the Test Prep Insight team walks you through the major highlights of each Italian language app that makes up our best list. For more detail regarding each Italian language program, be sure to continue reading below.
After reviewing more than a dozen Italian apps over the course of several weeks, Rocket Italian rose to the top of our list. Here are a few reasons why.
Audio Lessons Develop Your Verbal Skills
One of the most prominent features of Rocket’s program and it’s clearest highlight is the framework of interactive audio lessons. In these half-hour long exercises, you listen to and engage with fluent speakers within the construct of a guided conversation.
This mock dialogue is at the heart of each Rocket Italian lesson, and is incredibly effective for improving your listening comprehension and speaking skills. No other app (apart from maybe Pimsleur), comes this close to simulating real world experience.
Rather than focusing on the typical drills and exercises that we saw with other apps, which don’t necessarily boost your conversational skills, Rocket focuses on just that: actually listening and speaking. And given that you’re likely learning Italian to, you know, speak Italian, we love the emphasis on output.
Diverse Set Of Practice Drills To Drive Home Retention
Another aspect of this Italian program that we loved was the practice drills. Backstopping all of the audio lessons, Rocket provides a slate of reinforcement exercises. These drills take place right after you complete the audio lesson, and are intended to drive home the material you just learned.
These exercises include things like flashcards, fill-in-the-blanks, writing drills, and speed quizzes. The point is to get you to interact with the new words and phrases you just learned from different perspectives, thus increasing retention.
In essence, Rocket takes the types of drills that other apps use as the basis of their program and layers them in behind their audio lessons to double up on content instruction. And while this may make the lessons longer, they are also more comprehensive and in-depth because of this.
Accurate Speech Recognition Technology
Another clear highlight of the Rocket Italian program is their speech recognition software. As you complete the audio lessons and accompanying exercises, Rocket uses Google’s web speech API to record your voice and grade your pronunciation.
The will rate your pronunciation on a scale from 1 to 100 and provide feedback in an effort to help you improve your accent. While this isn’t unique to Rocket Italian (most other apps do this as well), their use of Google’s tech is very smart given its quality.
Helpful Grammar Instruction
Lastly, Rocket’s emphasis on grammar instruction within its coursework is noteworthy. Not all apps focus on grammar, which can be detrimental to your speech patterns as you learn.
The Rocket Italian audio lessons, as well as the supplemental “language & culture lessons” are chock full of helpful explanations and tips to help you learn all the different grammar rules and principles of the Italian language. It is much more in-depth than we have seen with other apps.
Why Babbel Is The Best Budget Option For Learning Italian
Rocket Italian may be our highest-rated Italian program, but it doesn’t come cheap. With lifetime only packages that run into the hundreds of dollars, it might simply be too expensive for some people. For those looking for a value-driven Italian app with a low monthly subscription price, Babbel is our pick for the following reasons.
Cheap Price Point
Babbel costs just $7 to $14 per month (depending on which package you go with). Compared to other Italian apps, that is one of the most affordable language learning tools on the market.
This is particularly true if you can find Babbel’s Italian course on sale, which they run pretty regularly. Plus, the discounts usually stay in place on a monthly basis so long as you stay subscribed. In short, we love Babbel’s value proposition.
Yet, we don’t love Babbel just for their low cost. If that was the only factor, Busuu, Duolingo and others would have to make this list as well. We also love Babbel for their lesson format and content delivery, as discussed further below.
Short, Engaging Lessons
From a substantive standpoint, our absolute favorite feature of the Babbel program is the design of their short, engaging lessons. Taking just 10-15 minutes each, Babbel’s lessons are perfect for busy people squeezing lessons in here and there where they can.
Beyond the length though, the lessons are also diverse, fast-moving and fun. Within each lesson you’ll usually work through a dozen or more different exercises, covering everything from fill-in-the-blanks to short, mock conversations.
Plus, Babbel even includes quick daily review sessions for increased recall. These sessions take just 2-3 minutes per day and are great for improving retention.
Awesome Speech Recognition Technology
Much like Rocket Italian, Babbel’s speech recognition technology is also top-notch. They frequently have you repeat words and phrases within the app, then judge your pronunciation.
While Babbel Italian doesn’t give you a grade from 1 to 100 like Rocket, they will provide more qualitative feedback like “you’re a pro” or “needs improvement.” While not quite as good, we found this generally helpful and thought their tech was very accurate.
Easy To Understand Grammar Content
Babbel sneaks grammar instruction into their program in a very sly way. Rather than hitting you over the head with text-heavy lessons, they use little “tip” popups. As you work through an exercise, tips will pop up about conjugating verbs, modifying adjectives, and other important points.
This sleek means of grammar delivery is smart, because you learn without even feeling like you’re learning. Because it’s carried out mainly with once-sentence instructions and examples, it’s super easy to digest.
Sleek, Easy-To-Use Digital Platform
The last noteworthy feature of Babbel’s program is the platform itself. Babbel’s user interface and experience overall is one of the best we’ve seen. It’s modern, fun and incredibly easy to navigate. I’m fairly sure my tech-illiterate uncle could use it.
Reasons Why Pimsleur Makes The Best Italian Courses List
Similar to Rocket Italian in numerous ways, Pimsleur is one of our favorite Italian language programs. And though Pimsleur grades ever-so-slightly lower than Rocket, they might actually be a better fit for you based on their subtle differences. Here’s why Pimsleur makes out list.
Interactive Audio Lessons
Much like Rocket, Pimsleur’s Italian program is also founded on audio lessons. They are the bedrock of this course. To begin every Pimsleur lesson (there are roughly 150 in the entire course), you listen to a 30-minute audio exercise.
These exercises are guided conversations where a moderator speaking in English walks you through the exchange step-by-step. She tells you what exactly you’re about to hear and why, and then frequently pauses to explain things and provide tips. It’s sort of like listening to an Italian podcast with English breakdowns.
Additionally, you’re frequently called upon to speak yourself. Pimsleur wants to get you talking, and as such, will have you practice your newly learned verbal skills right alongside the Italian speakers. These lessons are incredibly powerful at getting you talking, and fast.
Effective Practice Exercises
The audio lessons aren’t the only way in which Pimsleur’s course tracks with Rocket Italian. Pimsleur too uses a diverse set of drills to backstop their audio lessons.
These drills include speed games, flashcards, matching pairs, and listening exercises. The intent is to improve your comprehension by seeing the same material through multiple perspectives. And it works.
These reinforcement exercises make the Pimsleur program incredibly comprehensive and deep. It’s one of the main reasons why Pimsleur nabs such a high grade.
Special Driving Mode
One big difference between Pimsleur and Rocket Italian (apart from the lifetime vs monthly payment structure), is that Pimsleur offers users a special driving mode for their app and lessons, while Rocket does not.
In essence, because the bulk of the Pimsleur lessons are audio-based, you can complete them without having to look at a screen. So why not do them while driving? It’s no different than a podcast.
So if you have a long daily commute, or simply find yourself driving quite a bit for whatever reason, this offers a distinct advantage. You can kill two birds with one stone and make the most of your time by enabling the driving mode feature to knock out lessons on the go.
Free Trial Period
Unlike most other apps, Pimsleur actually offers a free trial period. Rather than having to input your credit card and commit to some level of purchase, you can use the Pimsleur program for 7 days risk free. This is great for kicking the tires on the course and seeing if you like it before diving straight in.
If you’re looking for live instruction, and not necessarily a self-study type of program, then iTalki would be our pick. To be clear – iTalki is not a standalone language learning course with an app or coursework.
Rather, iTalki focuses exclusively on 1-on-1 tutoring and instruction. Their program is built entirely on live classes with certified fluent instructors, offering a more personalized type of experience.
How iTalki Italian Works
iTalki isn’t your typical Italian app, like Rosetta Stone or Duolingo. There aren’t any drills, lessons or homework. How it works is actually pretty simple. On the iTalki website, there are dozens of Italian tutors listed in a marketplace-style directory.
Every tutor has a detailed bio, including which languages they speak, their Italian proficiency (usually native), experience, and a quick intro video. This allows you to scroll through, see which tutor might align best with your goals and knowledge level, and then select one from there.
Additionally, to prevent you from plopping down a sizable amount of money on some tutoring sessions only to find out you and your new tutor don’t jive, iTalki offers super cheap trial sessions.
Basically, for $3-$7 you can have a 30-minute session with your chosen tutor to make sure it’s a good fit before committing to further classes. This is a nice, affordable way of helping you to match with the right teacher before fully diving in.
Which Types Of Learners Is iTalki Italian Best For?
If you’re not the type of person who likes to self-study, whether because you want the energy of learning with othersor you need a set schedule of classes to keep yourself accountable to make progress, then iTalki is a great choice.
The iTalki program offers a nice way to interact with experienced teachers in a live environment, ask questions on the fly, and get immediate feedback on your pronunciation. In the sessions I took, I loved my tutor. She was super friendly, engaging, and had a great game plan for me as an Italian beginner.
What is the best app to learn Italian?
Among the more than dozen Italian language apps we’ve tested and reviewed, Rocket Italian emerged as our #1 Italian course. With deep audio lessons, reinforcement drills, insightful grammar tips, and a sleek platform, Rocket Italian offers the complete package.
How much do Italian language courses cost?
Italian apps vary widely in price, from totally free, to $50 per month subscription plans, to $500 lifetime packages. On average though, most Italian programs cost somewhere in the range of $8-$15 per month.
Are online language programs effective for learning Italian?
Yes, assuming you dedicate the time and stay consistent with your learning, online language programs can be highly effective for learning Italian. Like most learned skills, consistency and practice are key though.